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CASSA launches the first South Asian Gift of Life Week

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Published on August 21, 2015 with No Comments

Events held throughout the GTA will encourage organ and tissue donation registration  The Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA) announced South Asian Gift of Life Week, to be held October 5th to 11th, 2015. The goal of the week will be to address the cultural and religious myths about organ and tissue donation that persist in the South Asian communities while removing systemic barriers that prevent meaningful engagement of South Asians in campaigns for organ donations.

According to new research conducted at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), South Asian Canadians are less likely to register as organ donors and their families are also less likely to consent to deceased organ donation at the time of death, compared to the general Ontario population. Published recently in the online journal PLOS ONE, the research found that:  Only 12.8 percent of South Asian Ontarians have registered consent to organ and tissue donation, compared to 25 percent of the general Ontario population (in 2012, at the time of the study); just over half (54.2 percent) of South Asian families consented to deceased organ donation when a family member died in hospital, compared to 68 percent of the general Ontario population.

The study—the first to document actual registration rates among ethnic minorities, rather than just expressed support to donate—also included an examination of registration and consent in the Chinese community. “In Canada, people of Chinese and South Asian ancestry represent the two largest visible ethnic minority groups, says Alvin Li, Lead Author on the ICES study. “The findings reveal that there is an opportunity to build support for organ and tissue donation in these communities, which would have a significant impact for those on the transplant waiting list.”

In Ontario, there are over 1600 people waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. One organ donor can save up to eight lives and enhance as many as 75 through the gift of tissue.   “We need to address myths and misconceptions around organ and tissue donation through education and meaningful community engagement, says Neethan Shan, Executive Director of CASSA. “The need for an organ or tissue transplant can affect any one of us, no community is immune.  It is important for all communities, including South Asian Canadians, to be part of the solution to stop preventable deaths on the transplant waiting list by registering consent through www.BeADonor.ca/southasian.

“Registration saves lives. With evidence of their loved one’s registered consent, almost all families honour this donation decision. In the absence of registered consent, only 50 percent of families consent to organ donation.

For more information on the ICES research study: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0124321 . For more information on CASSA and the Gift of Life week: http://www.cassa.on.ca/wp2015/project/south- asian-gift-life-campaign/


For more information on Trillium Gift of Life Network, or to register as an organ and tissue donor: www.BeADonor.ca.


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